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Population Ecology of the Pale Kangaroo Mouse (Microdipodops pallidus) and Community Diversity at Crescent Dunes, in the Lower Smoky Valley of Central Nevada, USA.
AuthorHegg, Sarah J.
AdvisorMatocq, Marjorie D.
Natural Resources and Environmental Science
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Several species of granivorous rodents inhabit the unique semi-stabilized dune habitats of the Lower Smoky Valley of Nevada, including the pale kangaroo mouse (Microdipodops pallidus). The pale kangaroo mouse is a sand-obligate species endemic to the Great Basin Ecosystem, is historically rare and thought to be in decline yet locally common in this study area. It has been suggested as an indicator species for sparse sand dune habitats in the Great Basin yet little is known about the basic ecology, habitat preferences and community dynamics of this specialized and species. I conducted capture-mark-recapture trapping surveys at 18 grids over 3 years with coincident vegetation and soil surveys. My objectives were to establish baseline information on the basic ecology, demographics, and fine-scale habitat preferences of M. pallidus. I used spatially explicit capture-recapture methods to estimate demographic parameters for M. pallidus and generalized mixed-models to identify habitat associations. Additionally, I investigated the nocturnal rodent community structure, and how rodent diversity is influenced by environmental heterogeneity. I calculated 4 diversity indices and used linear regression to investigate the relative effects of biotic and abiotic heterogeneity on rodent diversity. My results show a negative relationship between M. pallidus and gravelly soils, and a negative relationship between dune variation and community diversity. These results establish important baselines to fill gaps in knowledge and help guide conservation efforts for species and habitats in decline.